The Beak Street Bugle meet post-production house Finish for an interview with the mds and co-founders Justine White and Jason Watts as well as Fi Kilroe , executive producer.
Top, from the left: Alaric Holberton, Paul Wright, Jason Watts, Justine White
Bottom: Harin Hirani, Fi Kilroe, Cheryl Payne, Kayley Fernandes
How would you describe the culture at Finish?
Justine: There’s no hiding in a small company, you have to be good at what you do and be able to multi-task. This means that the atmosphere is generally one of team spirit, mucking in when needed and getting the job done and done well. A couple of years ago having planned our studio move for a good few months, d-day arrived. Moving a post house is not as simple as your average office move, especially when you’re trying to limit your down-time. We had almost completed the biggest job in our history (Adidas F50 "Fast vs Fast") so everyone was pretty exhausted from an intense 6 weeks. Without too much prompting everyone just mucked in and did shifts over the bank holiday weekend helping with the move. I couldn't have asked for more.
Fi: The clients came in the day after the move, the Flames were up and running but that was about it and we still had new versions of the ever expanding campaign to get out, there were still boxes everywhere, it wasn’t ideal but we made it work. We are fortunate and proud to have strong, loyal relationships with our client base who didn’t bat an eyelid as we ran around them unpacking.
Justine: We have organically evolved from a small business, without any real long term expectations but have managed to grow as and when demand has needed. I think this has enabled us to keep all the best bits of a small company, all the warmth and friendliness whilst having all the resources of a real contender.
Which job have you pitched you REALLY wished you'd got?
Justine: There was one job that Daniel Barber was up for (the BA Terminal 5 campaign) with loads of animals 'swimming ' through the terminal, but due to our size at the time we were unable to do it. It was a huge 3D job and we didn’t even have the physical space to have the freelancers in. That was the moment we realised that we really needed to move if we wanted to take the company forward . The directors who were loyal to us were moving on to great things and we wanted to evolve with them.
What are the key lessons you’ve learnt about running a post-production company over these years?
Justine: Don't be complacent! One thing we’ve learnt is when we started we had a lot of good will and a lot of loyal clients but that people change jobs and move around. It’s the nature of the business. You’ve got to keep up with who’s where and let them know what you’re up to.
Jason: Keeping up to date with technology is always important but being inventive and creative with it is vital.
List five high points from the Finish years.
1. Starting up in 2003 was a real adrenaline rush for months. The curry and beer after our first big job was finished was heaven.
2. Winning our first award
3. Expanding both 2D & 3D departments
4. Moving to Wardour Street in June 2010, a sign that we were continuing to evolve and a creating another great space to work in.
5. Now! As the industry continues to shift and change we have been able to keep fluid and change with it.
What was your biggest disappointment and what did you do to cope with it?
Fi: It’s always disappointing to lose out on work due to people’s perception about smaller companies not being able to handle large campaigns. The way to cope with this is to prove you can! Which luckily we’ve had the opportunity to do.
What was the best work lunch you ever had?
It was in Cannes in an outdoor terrace up in the hills with a really lovely bunch of people (they know who they are) which didn’t finish until dinner time after we’d laughed the restaurant down.
What do you do to turn off from work?
Well after I’ve jogged all the way home, I like to fill my living room with steam and do DIY Bikram Yoga.....OK who am I kidding a G&T and a good book or an episode of "The Bridge".
What’s the most serendipitous production you’ve worked on when all the stars were aligned?
Fi: O2 Little Boxes because a large job had just fallen through allowing us to take this on at short notice. Working with HLA and VCCP was great on a job that had an incredibly tight schedule and could have been painful for all but was in fact a pleasure to do.
Creativity or bottom line – what’s the most important. Ok no one is going to honest on that, so how do you compromise?
Jason: A mutual respect for the creative versus post process can enable technically challenging ads to be made within budget and time constraints. If everyone is on the same page and works together, there’s no reason you can’t have both.
What’s the thing you most like about London post-production industry?
Justine: It’s close proximity to many Dim Sum restaurants.
Fi: The community. Even though it's obviously a very competitive market on a one to one basis people are actually very supportive of each other. If a friend's power goes down and they need to get something out the door you help them out.
What’s the thing you most dislike about the London production industry?
Their ever shrinking budgets, not that it’s their fault.
What do you think the future of post is going to look like?
The world’s top economists didn’t predict the crash, so I’m not sure we can do better with Post! However, ten years ago people were saying that TV was over and we wouldn’t be working on high end systems anymore and whilst it’s partly true we’re still going strong! Higher speed internet means there is and will be more remote work going on but it would be a shame to lose that human interaction entirely.